Last week, as our Country was transfixed on the “tweet of the day”, imagining that moment when Barack Obama dressed up like a cat burglar and scaled Trump Tower to attach “wires” to the penthouse, the United States became one step closer to shielding powerful corporations from being held accountable for conduct that harms, both economically and physically, average Americans. With little debate and no hearings, and without any input from legal experts, the United States House of Representatives passed HR 985, that opponents fear will virtually eliminate the ability of Americans to join together in a class action to hold corporations accountable and places the interests of the asbestos industry ahead of innocent people who the industry poisoned over a period of several decades, resulting in the needless suffering and death of those with crippling and often fatal asbestos related diseases.
HR 985, which includes provisions entitled, hypocritically, “The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act”, severely restricts the ability of injured consumers and workers to join together as a class and hold corporations accountable for conduct that harms others similarly situated. After all, resort to the Courts in the form of a class action is typically the only way for average citizens to help reform egregious conduct and bring about a measure of collective compensation for those injured by conduct common to each member of the class.
In an apparent attempt to punish those who have been injured from asbestos exposure, The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act places the private information of asbestos victims, including names and exposure histories, into a publically available database. Without a hint of justification as to how publically “outing” asbestos victims furthers the cause of reducing asbestos exposures, these provisions seek to insure a deterrent effect upon victims making claims with the knowledge that their identity will be available for all to see, including identity theft and online predators.
HR 985 is on its way to the United States Senate. Given the distractions that we find there, given the need in order to protect “national security” to determine whether the President “soiled the linens” in the room where Cat Burglar Obama stayed, America may sleep through the passage of this legislation that will further erode our rights as citizens. I hope Americans wake up. Some of the things that are happening are not just temporary, until we get to the “next election.” They are generational changing. Let’s slap some water on our face and wake up!